Marketing SEO

Negative SEO May Be a Trending Topic, But Is It Legit?

Similar to the way boomerang topics such as “advertorial” or “data” have retrended in recent years, “negative search engine optimization” has once again spurred concern and interest. Online marketing company Reboot recently found 79 percent of online companies are willing to sabotage another company’s website through negative search engine tactics. Contacting 100 small business owners in London and the South East, the study found a majority of companies either outright agreed to employ negative SEO practices against their top competitors, or they requested more information before making a decision.

Last year, USA Today reported Expedia may have been targeted by a negative search optimization campaign that caused it to rank lower on search engine results pages. The site lost “25 percent of its visibility in Google searches” over the course of one week, according to third-party search analytics firm Searchmetrics. This represents a huge hit for an online business that survives off links and e-commerce.

www. written in search bar on virtual screen.Although this could be a clear case of otherwise indiscernible negative search engine optimization tactics, it could also be the result of a series of bad or outdated search optimization practices that hit the fan late. In this case, the site would only need to go through and clean up its backlinks.

Back in 2012, Google deployed its “disavow links” feature, which tells Google to ignore certain links when assessing a site. A company (such as one in Expedia’s predicament) that has done all it can to remove spammy or low quality links from the Web could use the disavow links button as its next step. In most cases, however, Google can assess sites without this feature—and without fear there are links causing harm to sites.

“There’s a lot of people who talk about negative SEO but very few people who actually try it—and fewer still who actually succeed,” says Google’s Matt Cutts. According to him, the threat of negative SEO is still little to none.

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